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How and what to watch for in Central Arkansas vs. UAB

UAB looks to get on the right track in the first game involving an FBS team of the 2020 college football season.

NCAA Football: Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The first college football game involving an FBS team will kick off on Thursday night when the Central Arkansas Bears travels to play the UAB Blazers. Central Arkansas returned to the field on Saturday in a come-from-behind victory in the final minute to beat Austin Peay 24-17.

Will the previous game’s momentum be enough for the Bears to pull off an upset of UAB on the road? It probably wouldn’t hurt Central Arkansas’s chances, though the Bears will be facing a quality FBS opponent with UAB. The Blazers likely won’t have as many problems snapping the ball as Austin Peay did on Saturday night. The Bears benefited from a few bad snaps that changed the game in their favor.

UAB is coming off another solid campaign in 2019 by reaching the Conference USA title game, which ended in a 49-6 loss to Florida Atlantic. The Blazers are projected to be among the favorites to return to the conference championship this season. They return a lot of talent on defense from a unit that finished eighth in total defense last year.

On offense, UAB’s Spencer Brown enters his senior season at running back as the program’s all-time leader in rushing yards, though he did have a down year in 2019 averaging just 3.8 yards per carry as he battled a foot injury. At quarterback, Tyler Johnston III will need to limit turnovers this season, coming off a 15-interception year in 2019.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

Thursday night’s game will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET at UAB’s Legion Field and can be seen on ESPN3.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Central Arkansas (+19.5) vs. UAB

Point Total: O/U 49 (-110)

Money line: Central Arkansas (+950), UAB (-2000)

  • UAB is 18-0 straight up in its last 18 home games.
  • UAB is 4-1 against the spread in its last five Week 1 matchups.
  • Central Arkansas finished 9-4 straight up in 2019.

The Best Bet

UAB should be motivated after a pair of disappointing losses to end last season with the blowout in the conference title game and a 31-17 loss to Appalachian State in the New Orleans Bowl. The Blazers are an impressive team at home, and a loss to Central Arkansas would be a stunning upset to open the college football season. Central Arkansas may be gassed late in the after playing its second game with this one on short rest. UAB should have no problem taking advantage of that with a running game that should be much improved from last year.

Pick: UAB -19.5

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